How to use this guide

The poisons monographs are divided into canine (blue-headed pages) and feline (mauve-headed pages). Please note that data in entries for one animal species will not always be applicable to another species – some animals respond to different poisons in very different ways.

Within each section the monographs are listed alphabetically. Please note that generic names are used for all pharmaceutical agents; trade and proprietary names are not included. Plants and animals are listed under both common and Latin names. Please use the Index to find poisons listed by their alternative names.

Each poison monograph follows the same essential format.

  • This notes alternative names, such as common names for plants; for example, daffodil is the common name for species.
  • Where an entry refers to a group of agents (e.g. anticoagulant rodenticides) a list is given of the various compounds for which the subsequent guidance would be appropriate.
  • Please note that trade, brand and proprietary names are not used. To determine the contents of a particular product you should refer to the packaging or contact VPIS. VPIS has many resources available to determine the contents of commercial products.
  • Alternative names are included in the Index.

  • This provides a description of the agent and how it might be presented. Where medicines, pesticides and household chemicals are involved, information is provided on the intended uses of the agents, indications of how they might be presented or packaged, and in what likely concentrations.
  • For plants there will be a brief description of the appearance of the plant parts and how they may vary with season, plus notes on individual species where appropriate.

This section describes how and why the agent is thought to be toxic (if this is known). It may give some indications or measures of toxicity.

  • Some breeds are known to be more affected than others by certain poisons.
  • In some cases previous exposures to the specific or similar agents may increase the risk.
  • Pre-existing disease states (e.g. renal insufficiency) can also impact on responses to certain substances. If the animal exposed fits into any of these categories, then immediate discussion with VPIS is advised.

  • a rough guide as to the likely time it would take for clinical signs to appear. This can be useful in determining how urgent referral to a surgery should be, or whether an otherwise asymptomatic animal need attend at all.
  • a listing of the clinical signs most commonly reported, described or characteristic of the particular intoxication. These are usually listed in a general order of increased severity, although this may depend on dose.
  • less frequently observed signs or those that occur in only the most severe cases.

  • This section indicates when decontamination is appropriate. Details of methods are available in the Decontamination section at the back of the book.
  • General information is given on treatment modalities that may subsequently be necessary.
  • Where specific antidotal therapies may be required, dosing information is provided.

  • This provides indication(s) of the likely prognosis of a poisoning case involving the agent in question. This may vary according to dose, case history and even speed of presentation and level of veterinary intervention.

As a handy visual reference for those cases where a very quick response may be needed, we have applied a ’traffic light’ system for classifying the risks of each agent/types of agent.

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  • Exposure to the agent in question in the particular species may result in severe or life-threatening clinical signs and prognosis may be guarded. However, prompt and aggressive treatment could (depending on the agent) change this. Some toxicities can be treated but others are difficult to treat successfully.
  • The animal should be taken to a veterinary surgery as a matter of urgency, with any other evidential material (product packaging, etc.).
  • VPIS should be consulted about the case as soon as is practicable.
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  • Exposures to the agent are relatively common, and although most cases have a favourable outcome some fatal cases have occurred.
  • The animal should ideally be taken to a veterinary surgery as soon as possible for full veterinary review.
  • VPIS can give advice as to the likelihood of severe poisoning.
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  • Exposures to the agent are common.
  • The substance is considered by VPIS to be of low or negligible toxicity.
  • No obvious signs of illness may occur; where they do occur, they are likely to be mild and transient.
  • The animal is unlikely to need to attend a veterinary surgery unless there are extenuating circumstances or unusual signs have occurred.
  • The general management advice given in ‘Treatment’ should be followed.
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